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An Overview of the City of Escondido’s Historic Preservation Program


The City of Escondido's Historic Preservation Program is overseen by the Planning Department.  An overview follows, but a great deal of detailed information about Historic Preservation can be found by clicking here. 

Why is Escondido involved in Historic Preservation?

Escondido was incorporated in 1888, making it one of the oldest cities in southern California.  Even prior to incorporation, the community in this “Hidden Valley bustled with activity that laid the foundation for an impressive agricultural empire.  As agriculture gave way to urbanization, a strong collection of architectural treasures representing historic Escondido remains today in stately Victorians, comfortable Craftsman bungalows, eclectic Art-deco, and Post World War II residences.  Preserving these structures links the community with its roots and protects a valuable heritage for the future.


What is a Historic Resource?

The City recognizes all structures over 50 years old as historic, as well as structures meeting specific criteria.  Inventories are periodically conducted to document all historic structures and artifacts in the community.  The Historic Sites Survey, as it is called, is like a book of the City’s past, documenting the architectural style of each structure and noting available historical facts regarding the property.  Criteria for listing resources on the Historic Sites Survey include, but are not limited to the age of the resource, unique architectural characteristics, connections with historical persons, events or business, and historical focal points.


What are historic “Local Register” and “Landmark” Properties?

  In 1983, under a Department of Interior Directive, the City of Escondido conducted a survey that identified more than 1000 historic structures and features.  In 1992, there were 232 properties selected as having special historic and architectural features and were placed on the Local Register of Historic Places.  The Local Register identifies those resources that warrant additional protection.  Nine properties were determined to have exceptional architectural and cultural significance and have been identified as “Landmark properties and four others are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Periodic surveys are conducted to update the inventory. 

  Due to their unique qualities, Local Register and Landmark properties and features require the City’s Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) to review major alterations such as room additions and garages and must request Council approval following HPC input for demolition.  Owners of Local Register and Landmark properties are eligible for other incentives as are other historic properties within the City.


What is the Historic Preservation Commission?

  The HPC is a group of nine individuals appointed by the City Council.  The commissioners are appointed on the basis of their backgrounds in History, Archaeology, Cultural Anthropology, or other related fields.  They serve four-year terms, conducting public meetings on the third Thursday of every other month at 3:00 pm in the City Hall Council Chambers at 201 N. Broadway.


What does the Historic Preservation Commission do?

  The HPC is responsible for:

  • Developing appropriate codes and ordinances for implementing goals of preserving historic resources for city council consideration

  • Promoting and providing information on preservation of historic resources

  • Identifying structures for the Local Register of Historic Places

  • Maintaining the City’s Historic Sites Survey

  • Commenting on proposed lad uses that may impact historic resources

  • Reviewing requests for demolition of Local Register properties

  • Identifying properties eligible for the California Register of Historical Resources and the National Register of Historic Places


What is the Old Escondido Neighborhood Historic District (OEN or OEHD)?

  A special focus area that contains the majority of Escondido’s oldest historic resources lies within the boundaries of South Escondido Blvd., 5th Ave., Chestnuts St., and 13th Ave. The intent of the Historic District is to preserve the historic character of this neighborhood.  Quarterly meetings are open to all historic property owners and the general public, as well as neighbors.


What does it mean to own property in the Old Escondido Neighborhood District?

  During the multiple public meeting held to establish the Old Escondido Neighborhood Group, residents expressed the desire to maintain and improve the quality and character of their neighborhood. To address these concerns, the City enacted ordinances that preserve the single-family residential character and discourage incompatible residential and commercial uses.  All improvements or modification to structures must conform with the City’s established Design Guidelines.  Historic and non-historic properties must receive HPC approval for major projects such as room additions and new structures.  Minor projects, such as windows and patio covers are reviewed by Planning Department staff.


How can I take advantage of the incentives for Historic Preservation offered by the City?

  The Planning Department has staff and a resource/reference library available to assist property owners in their efforts to enhance their historic properties.  Specifically, the following publications and applications are available:

  • City of Escondido “A Guide to Historic Preservation.”

  • City of Escondido “Design Guidelines for Homeowner of Historic Resources

  • Mills Act applications for property tax reduction

  • Incentive program applications

  • City of Escondido ordinances enacting Historic Preservation Programs


If I have any questions about Historic Preservation in the City of Escondido, whom should I contact?

  The Planning Division

  • Mailing address: 201 N. Broadway, Escondido, CA 992025

  • Telephone: 760-839-4306

  • E-mail:

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